Predictions - AL East

1. New York Yankees

Overall - The acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton added 50 plus homeruns to the lineup. Late acquisitions of Neil Walker and Brandon Drury sent rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar back to the minors for one more year of seasoning. This year the Yankees are in it to win it.

Strengths - 1) The one obvious strength like the elephant in the room is the outfield. The corners could be flanked by two 50 homerun threats, except Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge may rotate between right field and DH.
2) DH. They appear not to have a standard DH but when your possibilities are Stanton, Judge and Gary Sanchez that is a scary trio. Things may get even a bit more complicated when Jacoby Ellsbury gets healthy.
3) Shortstop. Didi Gregorius added power to his game this year, slugging 25 homeruns. Derek who?
4) Bullpen. By his standards Aroldis Chapman had an off year. So did Dellin Betances. David Robertson gives them three closers to turn to.
5) Ace. Luis Severino appears to have come into his own, his 230 whiffs fourth in the American League. That put him third in the Cy Young Award Voting.
6) Catcher. Gary Sanchez put up some impressive offensive numbers for a catcher. His defense may have some holes but 33 homeruns and 90 RBIs will make up for a lot of mistakes (16 passed balls last year).

Weaknesses - 1) First Base. Greg Bird is not a proven commodity hitting just .191 last year. He has the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns but has trouble staying healthy. This could be a break out year for him or the Yankees may have to scramble to find a first baseman. Tyler Austin will not be the answer.
2) Rotation. Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia have a history of injuries but they have also had their share of accomplishments. There is not a lot of veteran options behind them so Yankee fans will cross their fingers for a healthy year.

Top Rookie - The rotation will probably need some help before the season ends. Chance Adams has an opportunity to make a contribution.

Top Prospect - Last year Gleyber Torres played in only 55 games because of Tommy John surgery. He will rehab a bit in the minors and depending on how Neil Walker produces a major league callup is not far away.

Expected Finish - Myworld expects them to win the division if their pitching can stay healthy. They will also be the American League World Series representative.

2. Boston Red Sox

Overall - There is not a lot left in their farm system but Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers, two recent additions will have a significant impact on how the Red Sox do this year. Pitching will be what breaks them.

Strengths - 1) Outfield. It may lack the power of the Yankees, but for defense it would be difficult to find a trio better. Andrew Benitendi should improve on his rookie year and challenge for a batting title. An improvement over hitting lefthanded pitching would help with that. Mookie Betts and his 102 RBIs put him sixth in MVP voting. Jackie Bradley is the weak link on offense but plays an excellent centerfield.
2) DH. J.D. Martinez gives them a 40 homerun bat. He can also play outfield but when compared to the other two corners would be the weak link defensively.
3) Front End of Rotation. Chris Sale struck out 308 hitters and was second in the Cy Young voting. David Price will be one of the better pitchers in the league if he can stay healthy.
4) Closer. Craig Kimbrel was unhittable, limiting righthanded bats to a .109 average.

Weakness - 1) Second Base. Without Dustin Pedroia out for a significant stretch of the season they have a hole. Brock Holt and Tzu-Wei Lin are better off in a utility role. After Holt, Edwin Nunez saw the most time at the position and hit .321 last year.
2) Catching. Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon will share the position. Both are a little light on offense and defense.
3) Back Half of Rotation. Injuries could sideline Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright for the start of the season. That is over 50 starts they have to find from somewhere. Brian Johnson and Roenis Elias are two possibilities. Rick Porcello is hoping for a bounce back year.

Top Rookie - Brian Johnson appears to have an opportunity to make the starting rotation. The 2012 first round pick is not overpowering but relies more on command.

Top Prospect - Michael Chavis hit 31 homeruns last year between two levels. Rafael Devers plays his position so expect him to get some time at first base to get his bat in the lineup.

Expected Finish - They will get the first wild card spot if their pitching holds up. It could be a long season if they get no production from the back half of the rotation.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

Overall - The Blue Jays are in that dreaded middle ground where they lack the talent to make the playoffs yet have some veteran pieces in the major leagues who could bring in a massive haul of prospects. They could end up in sell mode before mid-season.

Strengths - 1) Third Base. With Manny Machado moving to short Josh Donaldson may be the top third baseman in the American League.
2) Closer. They have one of the elite young closers in the game in Roberto Osuna. Since he has arrived in the major leagues the opposition has only hit him at a .198 pace. Seung-Hwan Oh is not the pitcher he was in Japan but he can still close a game in a pinch. His numbers were way down from what he put together in his rookie year in 2016.

Weaknesses - 1) Shortstop. Troy Tulowitski will begin the season on the disabled list. He is just a shell of what he was with the Rockies. Injuries will always limit him to less than 100 games per year. Aledmys Diaz needs to show he has something left in the tank after having a disappointing year his sophomore season with the Cardinals.
2) Second Base. Devon Travis is another player having difficulty staying healthy. He has one season in three where he played in more than 100 games (101). Not a lot of depth up the middle to replace both Tulowitski and Travis at the same time.
3) Rotation. Marcus Stroman has not proven yet he is an ace but he strung together a decent season last year. Aaron Sanchez has not thrived in the rotation like we thought when we first saw him, but injuries kept him out of the rotation last year. J.A. Happ’s track record has not shown that his 2016 season is the norm.

Top Rookie - If Anthony Alford can stay healthy he should have no problem winning a job in the Jays pedestrian outfield. Expect him to be called up when April turns to May.

Top Prospect - Third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr is rated slightly ahead of Bo Bichette. Both had fathers who were pretty good hitters in the major leagues. This year could see a September callup for both of them with their arrival slated more towards 2019.

Expected Finish - Third place with an expected sell off if they are far from the playoffs by June.

4. Tampa Bay Rays

Overall - The Rays trade Evan Longaria, Steven Souza and Corey Dickerson and they do not call it a rebuild. They also lost Alex Cobb, Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda to free agency. If this was a business the debit side of the ledger would be much greater than the credit side, with only prospects and Denard Span coming in as return. They still have enough young players to be competitive.

Strengths - 1) Defense. They have a pretty solid defensive core with Kevin Kiermaier one of the top defensive centerfielders in the game and Carlos Gomez and Denard Span solid in the corners. Adeiny Hechavvaria can pick it at short and Matt Duffy has shortstop skills utilized at third base. Wilson Ramos is a strong defender behind the plate. Those gloves should enhance a young starting corps ERA.
2) Top Two in Rotation. Chris Archer and Blake Snell should give the Rays quality starts. After that it gets a little dicey.

Weaknesses - 1) Corner outfield. Denard Span does not provide the same offensive numbers as Dickerson. Carlos Gomez gas tank may be running on empty and he falls short of Souza.
2) First base is still a hole after the departures of Duda and Morrison. Could be a good opportunity for Jake Bauer to find a home.
3) Back end of rotation. Losing Brent Honeywell chipped away at their depth. Don’t be surprised to see Ryan Yarbrough in the rotation. He’ll start in the bullpen but should end up in the rotation before the All Star break. Nathan Eovaldi needs to translate his stuff into outs if the Rays want to stay in the hunt.

Top Rookie - Only Chris Cron stands in the way of Jake Bauer making an impact.

Top Prospect - It would be Honeywell but Tommy John surgery knocked him out for the year. Willy Adames has a chance to take over the shortstop role or move to second base if the Rays want to increase their offense so he is the top healthy prospect on the roster.

Expected Finish - No matter how the Rays want to spin it the 2018 season is a rebuilding year.

5. Baltimore Orioles

Overall - They always seem to finish better than their projections. The late signing of Alex Cobb improves their rotation. They get one more year with Manny Machado and then it will really get hard to compete. Most feel the O’s will not sign Machado and trade him for a haul of prospects. They should finish at the bottom of the East with him or without him.

Strengths - 1) Shortstop. Manny Machado will return to short. His offense will make him one of the best shortstops in the league. Time will tell how his defense pans out and how much he has lost.
2) Top Three in Rotation. Myworld still sees a lot of upside in Alex Cobb, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausmann in the rotation. With those arms you don’t usually anticipate a last place finish.
3) Lots of pop. With Trey Mancini, Chris Davis, Machado and Jonathan Schoop they will rattle the fences. When Mark Trumbo returns from his injury it will enhance the pop throughout the lineup. Adam Jones and Colby Rasmus are not big time power hitters but they will contribute 20 plus homeruns.

Weaknesses - 1) Third Base. Tim Beckham has a bat that is best suited for short. He lacks the pop for third base. He had a nice spurt in his short half season with the O’s. Whether he can replicate that production is open to question.
2) Closer. Losing Zack Britton will open it up to a bullpen by committee. Brad Brach and Mychal Givens are the favorites to win the job.
3) Back end of rotation. There are a lot of candidates, but finding quality is elusive. Andrew Cashner has one spot. An inconsistent spring may knock Mike Wright from the fifth spot.

Top Rookie - The bat of Chance Sisco will win the starting catching job over Caleb Joseph. Sisco must be able to handle the pitching staff, a job Joseph has been good at after eight years spending it in Bowie.

Top Prospect - Hunter Harvey could be in the rotation by mid-season if he can stay healthy. This is the first year he has survived spring not plagued by injuries. He has excellent stuff.

Expected Finish - Last place with or without Manny Machado.

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